Gmail Backup – Backing Up Gmail Data to Your Computer

by Mike McEvoy on January 9, 2012

Gmail backup - backing up gmail data

Gmail backup is a concept that many Gmail users have not spent much time thinking about. Although the idea of Gmail backup did get some user’s attention when 40,000 Gmail users lost all the data in their email accounts at one point in 2011. Sure, it was only 0.02 percent of all Gmail users, but hey—that’s a lot of people. Why did it happen? Google only called it an “unexpected bug” and left it at that.

Luckily, Gmail was able to restore all that data within about a week, but a week’s quite a long time if you use Gmail for business! And what if next time Gmail’s backup system experiences an unexpected bug as well? What if you lose access to your Gmail account but need to access your messages?  If you have read any of the previous data backup posts here and here and here on the HTS Tech Tips blog you know how important it is to always keep backups of all your data, including your email.

How can you take your Gmail data into your own hands?  One technique is to set up a desktop mail client like Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail to accept backups for you.  To make backups all you need to set up is your POP protocol.  Prefer to just interact with your desktop mail client and ignore your Gmail account completely?  Setting up IMAP enables you to send and receive mail through your desktop mail client while still using Gmail as your address. This solution works for a lot of people, but not for everyone.  Not everyone finds these programs easy to use, or wants them installed on their computers.  They also aren’t necessarily optimal for backing up multiple Gmail accounts.

Rather not mess around with a desktop mail client? For a modest monthly fee, you can set up an automatic (or manual) Gmail backup using a program designed to download Gmail messages. There are a number of companies which offer these Gmail download and backup services including Gmail Keeper, Backupify, Spanning Backup and BackupMyMail.

Backing up Gmail is pretty simple when you let a program do it for you!  You can either set up backup automation or backup Gmail manually. Most of these programs not only backup your messages but also your labels and folders. You can either download your Gmail backup to your computer or store it securely on the company’s server. Most Gmail backup services allocate you unlimited storage space.

What can you do with Gmail backup?

  • Store a backup of your messages and settings securely in the cloud or on your computer.  Save space on your computer, or have instant offline access to your latest backups – both options are available to you.
  • Automate backups so you don’t have to worry about it.  Set up a manual backup anytime you want.  You have total control.
  • View your messages anytime, even if you get locked out of your account.
  • How ridiculous is it that Gmail provides no simple way to migrate to a new email address?  Easily transfer your old messages to a new email account by using a Gmail backup service.  You won’t need to keep a lot of defunct email accounts around simply to have copies of your old messages.
  • View your messages during a Gmail outage.
  • Back up multiple accounts.  If you have multiple Gmail accounts, you won’t have to go through the stress of setting up special backup and filtering rules on your desktop email client just to keep your messages from separate accounts straight.  It’s easy to set up multiple account backups with an online company.  Your backups will stay organized so you can stay organized too.

A couple of these companies also offer other services above and beyond Gmail backup.  BackupMyMail offers similar services for online photos, tweets, and blog entries.  Backupify offers even more. You can back up not only Gmail but also Google Apps, Facebook, online photos, and tweets. These days so much of our lives take place in virtual space, and much what is important to us is made up of 1’s and 0’s. Just because your data isn’t physical, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take extra measures to protect it.

Gmail backup only costs a few dollars each month, but it can save you time, hassle, and even money if you run a business using Gmail. Most of these services have free trials, so you can see for yourself how helpful they are! Regardless of which method or service you select remember that having a backup of your data is worth it.

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{ 2 comments }

Dominic January 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks for all the options Mike. I am a GMail user and have always thought it would be a good idea to backup emails. I will probably go for the free way :) However, the paid options seem like they will be good for the users who want to backup with little effort.

Robert Koenig August 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hmm, I have never even thought about backing my email. But now that you have brought it up, I’m a bit anxious about my email account crashing and losing all my data. I’ll be sure to look into the tip you’ve suggested. Thanks!

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